Unlike football, UK up and Spain down

It’s here, it’s here!  No, not Sinterklaas in the Low Countries, but the annual Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International, published this morning.  Featuring on the CPI 2013 are 177 countries – still no Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Cayman Islands, I’m afraid.  For an overview, I quote from the TI UK press release: “More than two thirds of the countries in the 2013 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).  The average country score this year is 43/100 – ask any school child what 43 out of 100 means on a test and you will get the same answer: failure.  Denmark and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 91.  Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia this year make up the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.”

As for specifics, the UK has made a slight improvement – it is now ranked at position 14 with a score of 76 (compared to 17 and 74 last year).  TI UK attributes this to “the continuing halo effect from the Bribery Act, and improved rhetoric from the UK government on tackling corruption”, but warns that “continued scandals related to politics and parliamentary ethics” may reverse this upwards trend.

The two big losers this year are Syria and Spain.  Syria fell to position 168, dropping nine points along the way to score only 17 out of 100, which TI UK explains thus: “The civil war has stopped good governance in its tracks.  For many years, state involvement in business through informal networks has contributed to an erratic economy.  Families associated with the regime in one way or another came to dominate the private sector in addition to exercising considerable control over public economic assets.”  As for Spain, its score is down 6 points to 59/100, almost certainly because “this year it suffered its largest ever corruption scandal over political party funding [and] both the Spanish Prime Minister and Royal family have been embroiled in corruption scandals.”  It’s those pesky PEPs again.

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3 Responses to Unlike football, UK up and Spain down

  1. Nikki Neal says:

    this really does hark back to the pre-internet era when corruption used to sit nicely within neatly defined geographical boundaries.

    everyone seems to be incredibly slow to see how the old-fashioned geographical boundaries have simply ceased to exist in the form that many of them were taught to believe in.

    for instance, lets say there’s a bunch of corrupt individuals from a really naughty place like, say Afghanistan, North Korea of Somalia. well, if they really know how to play the “Corruption Perceptions Index” game, then all they need to do is find a “clean” frontman to set up an internet-based business with a company incorporated in country A, administrators in country B, website hosted in country C, payment service providers in country D, catering primarily to markets just about anywhere. taxed in absolutely nowhere, because no taxing authority can figure out what the hell is going on anyway.

    is really not so difficult for such shady characters to find some “nice but dim” button-pushers in sleepy little offshore locations. where everyone dutifully tows the AML line, and knows that as long as they tick all the boxes prescribed by their nice friendly regulator, they will be spared an enforced six year stay in Les Nicolles.

    what this boils down to is that there are no “corrupt countries” as such, but merely “corrupt individuals”. any attempts to generalise just leads to mental laziness and the “box ticking” mentality that prevails in the current efforts to counter naughty stuff.

    and I’m sorry, a regulator can issue general guidelines for sure, but at the end of the day successful AML management is all down to using one’s common sense and intuition to spot when something doesn’t quite stack up. this is where KYC is crucial, in the sense of “well, let’s really get to know everything we can about this person before we agree to do business with them”. difficult to do when the pound signs light up in people’s eyes in the prospect of either (a) gaining new business, and/or (b) not losing existing business. in my experience, the desire for personal gain often distorts peoples’ ability to think clearly on such delicate subjects.

    “well”, you cry, “you can’t change human nature”. so there you have both the root of the problem, plus also the key to the solution…

  2. Claire says:

    I agree that corrupt individuals should be at the top of the list. But many corrupt individuals do make a corrupt country… It’s when the law fails that this happens. Many people working in money-laundering have been lured into the business very slowly, and are knee-deep in by the time they realize it. Some just stay because they have a family to support. They get used to the life-style. Others who would like to get out, simply get threatened, blackmailed,…
    When, as a “good” person, you try to run a business in a corrupt country, and have to pay off officials, there often is no other choice than to do so. But a “non-corrupt” country doing business with a corrupt country, they have the power to say no. Why do we accept products from countries that are corrupt, that have labour slaves, that have no regard for human life nor the environment? Because really, we don’t care so much as long as we don’t have to know about it. Being ethical starts in your house. And as long as that is not happening in every house, corrupt individuals / business / countries have a market. Well, that is my opinion.
    And I would like to reach out to the Syrian people. Syria was a modern society, rich in history & culture. My best friend is from Damascus. Thankfully she lives in Norway with her family. But her 80-year old dad still is in Damascus, and does not want to leave. It’s his country… Those totalitarian regimes work because other countries / big businesses support them for economical gain. I hope one day my friend will be able to show me the beauty of Damascus.

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    The Index is simply a useful tool. Sure it deals in generalities but you’d be a brave CO if you looked upon Syria in the same way as Denmark. But as I keep getting told ‘there must be some honest people there.’
    How did PRNK get eight points, for putting their name at the top of the paper?

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